GILFORD — Cam Patridge knew he wanted to work at Concord Hospital as soon as he interned there during college. A registered nurse, he worked there for two years, and he now finds himself on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle, as his floor has been reassigned to care for patients infected with the novel coronavirus.
Patridge, a 2014 Gilford High School graduate, lives in Gilford with his parents. He said it felt “surreal” in the beginning of the pandemic, as his telemetry floor was being converted to a new mission. Since then, he said he has become acclimated to his role in the fight, as one of the people who cares for people who have COVID-19.
But at the end of his shift, he said he worries about what he might be bringing home to his parents, who are both in their 60s and are therefore considered more at risk from the virus than younger people. He’s been doing as much as he can to protect them, he said.
“It takes a lot to stress me out, but at the same time, it’s in the back of your head to limit your family to being exposed to that,” he said.
And that’s exactly what prompted a couple in Texas to found "RVs 4 MDs to Fight the Corona Virus," a Facebook group, just about a month ago. The wife of the family, Emily Phillips, reached out on Facebook on March 22 to ask her friends if anyone had temporary housing for her husband, ER physician Dr. Jason Phillips, so he could avoid bringing the disease home to her and their children. A friend of a friend saw the post and offered to loan them an unused RV.
That experience led to the creation of the Facebook group just a couple of days later, and in the weeks since it has turned into a global movement with thousands of members, as people with campers and recreational vehicles they don’t need offer them to medical workers who don’t want to risk infecting their families.
And that’s how Patridge was able to connect with Britney Waldrip, who has an RV she was planning to sell later this summer. Waldrip joined the Facebook group, notified the administrators that she had a camper to lend, and was quickly connected to Patridge. She was even able to get a free tow from John Schlemmer of John’s Towing, who delivered the RV last Thursday evening.
Waldip is also a medical professional. She is a home care and hospice nurse for the Lakes Region Visiting Nurse Association. Her life, as has everyone’s, has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Even though she isn’t caring for people who have COVID-19, she has to wear protective equipment when she visits her patients, and is no longer allowed to give them hugs. It makes her sad that her mask prevents her from even sharing a smile with them.
“It has made me cautious and more aware, now we are wearing masks and gloves in every patient’s home,” she said. Her young son, who usually lives with her at her Sandwich home, is now staying with his grandparents, both to protect him from possible exposure and because she can’t help him with his remote learning while she’s at work.
The pandemic has been “sad and overwhelming” for her, she said, so when she learned of the RVs for MDs campaign, she leapt at the chance to help alleviate another person’s stress.
Patridge is glad she did.
“As far as the RV goes, the impact of that is, I’m more grateful than I can describe with words,” Patridge said. “I have somewhere to go if I feel things get out of hand or if I feel I’ve been exposed and (need to) isolate…. I’m extremely grateful for Britney’s generosity.”